The Seven Characteristics Of Sentience.
Intention to provide a guide to the recognizing of when an organism (form of life), has reached, otherwise can become justified as probably as sentient as ourselves. This hopefully will become helpful for the Xeno-Biologists involved in the search for life on other worlds. Furthermore, this may help to clarify a pressing consideration, whether we may currently share our planet with species of different but equivalent sentience to that as ourselves.
Laymen ofcourse, usually may define sentience by ‘feeling’, of pain, etc., such as for example defined by Julia Swannell (1989):
"that feels or is capable of feeling".
consequently many organisms can become said to appear sentient, which as a definition is not helpful. However, it may appear likely that any definition of sentience should include awareness (conscious; observant, knowing, etc.; otherwise as after Arthur S. Reber (1988): "Awareness...being cognizant or conscious of something"), such as more assertively provided by A.M. MacDonald (1949) using the operative term conscious (Latin conscius, aware: emergent self-awareness; 'mind', etc):
"Conscious capable of sensation, responsive to stimulus".
Scientists, have theorized over many possible distinctive features which Humans seemingly posses, which we may term sentience, distinguishing them from the other species sharing planet Earth. Paleo-anthropologists, have found that early Humans have made tools from such as Flint, Obsidian, bone, etc. These early Humans have used such tools to make amongst other objects, ornaments, whilst their caves often decorated with art, suggesting creativity. Whilst, Humans progress from a supposed hunter-gatherer life-style, to one of farming involving habitat-transforming, leading to our current large globalized cultures-and-cities-infra-organizations, speaks of social-organizing, co-operation, complex relationships, etc. Unlike many other creatures, Humans appear self-aware, indeed conscious of intentions, etc.; consequently able to plan, based on abstracting upon their past, etc., capable of modifying (adapting) to changing conditions with imaginative-innovative advances, benefitting from past mistakes, with which can furthermore benefit society-and-future generations, for example, with the use of language-symbols the use of books organized into libraries, hence altruistic. Ofcourse, apart from such more positive features, Humans have demonstrated such negative aspects such as a propensity to war, for revenge, etc., again which appear absent in other organisms. However, perhaps such features may appear transient subject to evolving, such as coming-about by conscious intentions of the dysfunctional, antiquated modes of adapting.
However, I subscribe to Wolfgang Kohler’s (1925) insight, instead of Francis Galton’s (1884) inherited ‘Intelligence’ (Latin intellectus, as 'intelligent'): that involving 'reasoning', involving understanding, etc.; distinguished from 'feelings', 'willing', etc. However, the various I.Q. tests though can predict academic performance, actually measures practiced ability, and not even Charles Edward Spearman’s (1927) "General Factor” of ‘intelligence’; neither has any specific genes emerged in research, nor the likelihood of any independently functioning genes clearly involved in ‘intelligence’ performance, can possibly become more important than differentiated individual experience. Instead Wolfgang Kohler (1925), in a succession of published experiments, demonstrated that Chimpanzees, like ourselves seem capable of insights. To this end Drever (1952) clarifies the situation giving 'intelligence' as:
"The relating activity of mind; insight as understood by the Gestalt Psychologists; in its lowest terms intelligence is present where the individual, animal or human being, is aware, however dimly, of the relevance of his behavior to an objective; many definitions of what is really indefinable have been attempted by Psychologists, of which the least unsatisfactory are:
(1). the capacity to meet novel situations, or to learn to do so, by new adaptive responses and
(2). the ability to perform tests or tasks, involving the grasping of relationships the degree of intelligence being proportional to the complexity, or the abstractness, or both of the relationships".
While Arthur S. Reber (1985) defines insight as:
"The process by which problems are solved. In this sense, insight characterizes a sudden re-organization or restructuring of the pattern or significance of events allowing one to grasp relationships relevant to the solution".
Therefore, an organism’s ability to abstract on many levels beyond possible ‘associations’ (Latin associāre: after Aristotle (350 B.C.), to form connexion(s) accustomed in joining: 'associations' are false relations between two events occurring (hence ordered) in spatio-temporal contiguity; after David Hume (1739)), but particularly Alfred Korzybski’s (1921) "Time-Binding”, which involves the transmission (for example via books) of abstractions (insights) to future generations (innovations on insights), which instead I take as important. Related to this discussion on Time-binding connected with abstracting, appears Human tool-use-innovating. Here Carl Sagan (1992) argues, a distinction between tool-using along with tool-making appears appropriate. However, humans are not the only species who manufactures both uses tools. Because, as Sagan further observes so do Chimpanzees, for example in "fishing" for termites. As Jennifer Lindsey (1990) describes, from Jane Goodall's research:
"Chimpanzees use many objects as tools, and also modify them if necessary, such as grass stems, or twigs stripped of leaves, to extract termites from their nests.
They use leaves to wipe dirt off themselves or, crumpled as sponges, to sop up water they cannot reach with their lips.
They use rocks and branches as weapons during aggressions".
Indeed it seems many higher organisms, apart from Humans, demonstrate a remarkable flexibility in their abstracting, which in terms of Humans we usually term ‘thinking’ (Greek denkem, 'reason'): infer, symbolize, formulating, etc., of higher orders of abstracting.
Following from the definition of Sentience: (Latin sentiens of sentīre, to 'feel') conscious, as in self-aware, etc.; though confusingly refers to the minimum capacity to 'feel'. Therefore from the above considerations, sentient life entails a gestalt:
(1). Technological: degree of tool-use-manufacturing.
(2). Creative: innovative, imaginative, etc.
(3). Social-organizing (co-operating): showing complex relationships. (4). Abstracting (Latin abstractus, to draw: representing, organizing, etc., of events by objects, symbols, etc., for example, perceiving, visualizing, words, formulas, etc): representing, gestalts, etc.
(5). Consciousness of abstracting (after Alfred Korzybski (1933), empirical order of evaluating avoiding 'identification(s)'): gestalt based on the process of representing-as-a-whole from events, otherwise self. (6). Time-binding (after Alfred Korzybski (1921), capacity to improve on the accumulated abstractions of others, then transmitting it for future generations, for example humans): insights, the high-order abstractions made upon abstractions passed on from previous generations.
(7). Self-sacrificing: altruism (Latin alterihuic, to this other): selfless-ness to another; self-sacrificing (self-motivating), the sacrifice of one's interests, 'desires', etc., to those of others.
However, because of my concerns over Humanity’s continuing ignorance involving up-and-coming evolving sentient species, apart from determining characteristics which differentiate Humans from other species, I have furthermore decided to discuss these characteristics of sentience in terms of other possible sentient species on our planet. One species at risk, remaining mis-understood, indeed subject to continued slaughter as food-or-as-pests involves the Cetaceans, of these as-a-species, perhaps as a consequence of the Television series "Flipper”, Tursiops Truncatus (Bottle-nose Dolphins) have become an obsession by researchers, the public, etc., as-a-result much has become known about them as-a-species. Therefore with the intention of testing the formulation of the characteristics of sentience, I have investigated the research for Bottle-nose Dolphins, in order to shed light on their evolving sentience.
Though doubtful that the prejudices of others will in anyway become enlightened, this paper will hopefully nevertheless inform debate.